Ajanta and Ellora caves tour / tourism / information

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Located near the city of Aurangabad, the Ajanta and Ellora caves are the pride of Maharashtra. The caves were all cut out of rocks by hand (with just chisel and hammer, probably) and they have exquite carvings and paintings on the walls. These caves represent some of the outstanding specimens of ancient Indian architectural heritage. A British Army Officer, by the name of John Smith, accidentally discovered these caves while on a hunting expedition in 1819.

Ajanta caves are near a village called Ajanta, about a 100 kilometers from Aurangabad. They are situated on a huge horse-shaped valley deep within the Sahyadri Hills overlooking a river gorge. There are, in all, 29 caves in Ajanta and they depict the story of Buddhism and span over a period of 200 BC to 650 AD.

These 29 caves were built as secluded retreats of the Buddhist monks, who performed rituals in the Chaityas (chapels) and lived and taught in the Viharas (monasteries). Each cave is like a hall the walls of which are decorated with carvings and paintings depicting stories from the Jatakas, a rich mine of tales of the several incarnations of the Buddha. Images of Apsaras (nymphs) and princesses amongst others, are also elaborately portrayed.

Ajanta caves are in the list of UNESCO's World Heritage sites. Two of the paintings from the Ajanta panel have also found place on Indian stamps. You can click on any stamp image to see the actual Ajanta painting.

Ajanta Panel
Ajanta Panel
Bodhisattva - Ajanta Painting
Bodhisattva
Ajanta Painting

Nearby Ellora caves, though not in the list of World Heritage sites, are also equally impressive. The Ellora caves, 34 in number, are younger than the Ajanta caves. It is believed that these caves were carved between 350 AD and 700 AD. Ellora caves are also examples of finest cave temple architecture of ancient India. These caves also house elaborate facades and exquisitely decorated interiors. But the structures here represent three faiths - Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, unlike in Ajanta where it is only Buddhism.

All tourists to Ajanta and Ellora, specially lovers of art, irrespective of their religious faith, will find the trip very rewarding.

Here are some links that you will find useful if you plan to visit Ajanta and Ellora caves:

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